Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…Food photos and recipes!…

low carb keto way of eating while traveling the world
Here’s a favorite meal: bacon-wrapped, hard-boiled egg stuffed meatloaf made with grass-fed ground beef; salads with red romaine (cos), celery, carrot, and homemade salad dressing; sliced cucumber sprinkled with Himalayan salt; steamed green beans and broccolini; oven-roasted zucchini; good-for-gut-bacteria probiotic sauerkraut; and, my favorite occasional treat, low carb flaxseed and almond flour muffins topped with grass-fed organic butter. Who says “low carb” dining isn’t healthy? (The red bottle in the center of the table contains homemade ketchup we put in a  used and washed bottle). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

For many readers, today’s third of five SEO posts may be found to be controversial, again with repetition from past posts, required due to this process as Post #3 of 5 for this purpose.

If you still believe and follow a vegan diet or the low fat, low or moderate protein, primarily plant-based, high carbohydrate way of eating, this post won’t appeal to your personal beliefs about food. That’s OK. The intent here is not to dismiss or express disdain for any way of eating that may serve you well. Nor do we intend to “convert” any of our readers to our chosen lifestyle of low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Please understand that today’s post on the low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world has worked for me, for Tom, and many across the globe. Over the years, we’ve received tremendous positive feedback from readers following a similar path, often requesting tips and recipes, which we happily provided and posted. In no manner are we dispensing any medical or health advice? Please seek your resources for additional information.

How one chooses to eat and to ultimately care for their health is a personal topic, one which we’re sharing here again today based on countless emails we’ve received from readers asking us to reiterate how we are living a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world when so much of the world’s diet consists of high carbohydrates foods including grains, sugars, and starches.

Homemade grain-free pizza crust
Homemade grain-free pizza crust. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…

It all started in 2011 when I sought treatment from an integrative medicine doctor, a licensed, accredited physician who treats the entire body rather than a part of the body causing an issue. I suffered from hereditary auto-immune conditions, including pre-diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperinsulinemia, and metabolic syndrome. All of these inflammatory genetic conditions ultimately led to cardiovascular disease.

Also, these conditions, coupled with a hereditary propensity to advanced spinal stenosis (and subsequent diabetes and heart disease), resulted in constant full-body pain commensurate with my three MRIs, illustrating that my skeletal frame was rapidly disintegrating.

Based on these three MRIs, the doctor expected I’d be in a wheelchair in a matter of months. At that time, I was 61 years old, living my life as a disabled person, struggling to stay active with excessive painful exercise, requiring me to retire early. Mainly, I didn’t discuss the degree of pain I was suffering, preferring to avoid eliciting sympathy from family and friends.

With pressure on my nerves throughout my body, the “crumbling vertebrae and other joints,” and other conditions mentioned above left me with chronic full-body pain.

baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves
One of our favorite recipes: baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves. We tripled the recipe to result in four meals, freezing part of it. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

This fantastic doctor handed me 20-pages of literature from the renowned Cleveland Clinic on how a low carb, ketogenic way of eating may reduce my level of pain and symptoms from the above conditions.

As it turned out, a lifetime of eating low-fat, high carbohydrate, low protein, high sugar-grain-starch diet eventually impacted my cardiovascular system, which was firmly in place long before I changed my diet in 2011. As the surgeon explained, after my triple cardiac bypass surgery in 2019, I’d had heart disease for the prior 20, 30, or 40 years and didn’t know it. Inflammation, ultimately, was the cause. By the time I changed to a low-carb, keto way of eating in 2011, the damage had been done.

In 2019, the cardiologist explained that those changes I made in 2011 may well have saved my life from a fatal heart attack, as well as years of exercising, which I used as a means to avoid further deterioration of my joints and muscles.

Layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway
We were layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway, ready to be wrapped in parchment paper. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

What does a low-carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world look like?

As I read through the 20-page report from the Cleveland Clinic, I wondered how I could follow such a strict eating method. In my usual routine, I sought information online from reliable sources on the controversial low carb/keto diet, which was often used for several chronic conditions. Much to my surprise, I found many reputable resources to assist me in my journey. For the sake of expediency, I won’t be listing “how to do a keto diet” here today, other than to list the following foods in general which are allowed, as opposed to those “not allowed.”

1. Animal protein (including eggs): Any form without sauces and spices containing starch, grains, and sugars
2. Vegetables: Any non-starchy vegetables that grow above ground, excluding corn, beans, peas, prepared simply with butter, Himalayan salt, and some spices. No fruit of any type, which is high in sugar, other than a few berries from time to time
3. Dairy (if tolerated): In moderation: Hard cheeses, full-fat cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese. (Yogurt is generally high in sugars and whey protein containing milk sugars).
4. Spices: Mustard, fresh or dried spices without additives; homemade mayonnaise (most mayo includes toxic oils). No store-bought ketchup which is high in sugar
5. Oils: Pure, high-quality olive oil, butter, lard, tallow, bacon fat. (Vegetable oils must be avoided due to high inflammatory effects).

Goal: No more than 20 actual (not “net carbs” often calculated after deducting fiber) grams of carbohydrates per day, readily available for calculation on numerous free online apps.

Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie

One of three pans of Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie. (We couldn’t find the correct sized tin foil pans to use. Instead, we used three baking pans. But the recipe is best baked in individual pans since it tends to fall apart when scooping it out from larger pans). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How and when did we decide we could maintain a low-carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

After three months of eating this way, following the above with relative ease, one morning, I awoke, and the pain was gone! And I mean GONE! Only five months later, we decided to forgo life as we knew it to travel the world. Shortly after that, Tom embraced this way of eating, losing 40 pounds, 18 kg, while recovering from irritable bowel syndrome and restless leg syndrome. In six months, he was totally off seven pills a day! But, we wondered, was it conceivable to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

Highly motivated, with the pain still gone for me and weight and illnesses gone for Tom, we were on our way on October 31, 2012, soon to be our eighth anniversary since we began our journey. Hovering in our minds was the upcoming three months in Italy only 11 months later, the endless restaurant visits, the foods popular in various countries in Europe, the tempting desserts, bread, and flour-laden dishes on cruise ships. How would we do it?

I avoided anything that didn’t fall within the above parameters. It required a considerable commitment from me, more than Tom. The latter seemed to occasionally vary from our low-carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world without any significant consequences. For me, I was terrified that if I so much as took a bite of a dessert, a flour-thickened sauce, pasta, or bread, I’d immediately revert to my former pain-ridden condition.

mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
For three night’s we had mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. There’s also one ball inside each meatball, along with one on each top. On the side, steamed veggies and salad. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Was it easy to shop for and maintain a low-carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

In time, we developed a sensible routine for shopping for our home-cooked meals. Comparable to most home cooks, we created a list in our minds of favorite dishes, shopping for ingredients accordingly. Every country, without exception, sells some form of animal protein such as fish, shellfish, chicken, beef, and pork. (Although, here in India, no beef or pork is served, other than bacon).

Every country sells eggs, most often free-range, butter, and non-starchy vegetables. We were always able to purchase quality imported hard cheeses and other low-carb cheeses, although, at times, they were expensive. We budgeted. Accordingly, I suppose the most challenging situation has been in India, where we’re longing for a bun-less burger, a juicy steak, or pork chops, none of which are available due to Hindu religious beliefs. As a result, we continue to eat chicken and, on occasion, salmon (for me), which is expensive for a tiny portion.

Shopping for groceries was most challenging in Belize. The grocery store offered only frozen, often freezer-burned meats, and again in Fiji, an excellent meat market provided many significant cuts of meat of all types. Still, the grocery store with only two aisles had few items to prepare our meals, including vegetables and spices. Somehow, we always figured it out, never sacrificing our chosen low-carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl
Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Recipes for maintaining a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world…

Like many of our readers, we all have a “favorite” recipes list, often a top 10. Years ago, I wrote a post about our favorite top ten LOW CARB recipes which include:

1. Bread-less submarine sandwiches – See the link here for the details and photos.
2. Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf – See the link here for details and photos.
3. Chicken Stuffed Almond Flour Loaves – See the link here for details and photos.
4. Chicken Pot Pies – See the here for details and photos.
5. Meatballs stuffed with Mozzarella with Mushrooms & Sugar-free Marinara – See this link for details and photos.
6. Pizza – See this link for the crust to add your favorite low-carb, sugar-free topping.
7. Taco salad with low carb bowl – See this link here for the bowl to which you add your favorite low carb ingredients
8. Gluten-free hamburgers with low carb buns – See here for our low carb bun recipe to which you add your favorite burgers and vegetables
9. Sunday Roast – See here for our low-carb Sunday roast, so popular in the UK.
10. Coconut or Almond Flour Battered Fish or Chicken – See here for either option.

8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion
These homemade hamburger buns are enormous enough to hold a 6 to 8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion or other items added. They’re delicious! Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world, especially while in lockdown in India during the past six months…

It’s been not easy these past months in lockdown in India with room service providing all of our meals. We’ve always preferred to eat only two meals per day. On occasion, we’ve chosen intermittent fasting for health reasons, which is easier for us when we’re living in a holiday home and may need to break the fast with the food we have on hand. Here, we have nothing available if we feel a “need” to eat something appropriate for breaking the fast.

Indian food, although delicious to me, is not a favorite of Tom’s. And Indian food is packed with starch, sugar, fruit, and grains, none of which are suitable for my eating. At one point, early on, I considered throwing caution to the wind and dining on the delicious Indian foods.

I’ve forced myself to walk the past few months. However, after seeing how I had difficulty walking after eating only their rich red sauces (all without gluten) for several months, I now realize I wouldn’t have been able to do all the walking I’ve done so far, never missing a day, solely with the intent in benefitting my heart health. If the pain made it impossible to walk, I’d only have been damaging my health further.

organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots
Our Sunday roast: organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots. I cut the roast open during the last 30 minutes to ensure it was cooked properly. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Now, back to my strict keto diet, forgoing all those carb-laden sauces, eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, I’m finding the walking easier each day. The philosophy of deducting the fiber grams from the total number of grams of carbohydrates has been proven to be a fallacy. I count only the full carb content of carbohydrates, and now, I’m gradually improving more each day.

Hopefully, by the time we leave India, I will be back to fitness and health in every way.

How you can achieve a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world or when living life anywhere in the world…

At first, when I decided to write on this topic, I considered adding links to the doctors, researchers, and scientists who’ve done extensive research on this way of eating. After thinking about it, I decided with the vast information available online, each of us needs to do our research to bring us to the point of realization that the low fat, high carb, low protein, highly-processed grains, sugars, and starches may not be for us. One need only looks at the poor health of the world’s citizens and in the US, from following this modality for the past four decades.

dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad
A favorite dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad on the side was a perfect meal we both enjoyed. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

It took me years of research to find my way in this life-changing way of eating. There are countless highly reputable resources online you may choose to investigate. If you have difficulty researching, feel free to contact me at the end of any post in the comments section, and I will add some links for all of our readers to see.

Thank you for letting me share this story once again as we each decide which path works best in extending our lives, the quality of our lives, and the ultimate guilt-free enjoyment of many outstanding foods and meals at home and throughout the world.

Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2019:

Renata, our host,  suggested we pick all the tomatoes and other vegetables we wanted, remaining in the greenhouse. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Easter and Passover for those who celebrate…We’re having guests for Easter dinner!…One week and counting…

Surfers took advantage of the excellent surf.
A long time ago, we decided that making a fuss over holidays wouldn’t make sense while living this nomadic lifestyle. This caused a particular meaning when many holidays revolve around food, which doesn’t fit our eating habits, especially during Easter.

As a result, there are no more long days spent baking and cooking in the kitchen. We no longer decorate the house, make Easter baskets, decorate and hide Easter eggs or take the time to bake and decorate our former annual bunny rabbit cake. All of that seems like a lifetime ago.

Sunbathers and swimmers are enjoying a sunny day at Manly Beach.

Oddly, we don’t miss any of the work associated with holidays, but of course, we miss the interaction with family, the playfulness, and the laughter. Soon, we’ll be in the midst of all of that!

A day at the beach for school kids.

Over these years of world travel, I’ve lost interest in cooking other than coming up with tasty recipes Tom and I can enjoy in our daily lives. Even so, I usually only cook two or three times a week when typically I’ll purchase enough of any item to last for three dinners, cooking a fresh batch each day. It works for us.

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. See details here for this wildlife-protected area known for snorkeling and hiking.

Besides, most of our meals are appealing enough that we quickly look forward to repeats. However, we also have to consider that most holiday homes have tiny refrigerators and freezers, leaving us with little space for storing much food or for freezing leftovers. 

With no rental cars in some locations, such as here in Fairlight, for 40 nights, we’ve attempted to avoid returning to the market any more often than necessary. Also, we’ve found that cooking for three days saves money in the long run.

The sun on the sea created a crystal-like appearance.

Groceries costs are not as low in Australia as in many other parts of the world but, they’re certainly less than we spent in the US five years ago. So it will be exciting and perhaps be shocking when we see food prices when we soon return to the US.

The sea is blue in this part of Australia. However, when we lived in Trinity Beach in 2015, near Cairns (pronounced “cans”), the sea was brown and murky in most areas.

Tom and I realized that we wouldn’t be cooking from April 22nd when we board the cruise to North America until sometime in July when we arrive in Nevada, where we’ll stay at son Richard‘s home in Henderson. 

Staying with Richard for three weeks, I may cook a few meals each week since, at that point, it will have been months since I’d done any cooking. During the six weeks in Minnesota, while staying in a hotel, we won’t have cooked at all with the complimentary breakfast in the hotel and dinners out with family and friends.

Tall trees, many evergreens line the boulevard along the beach, providing plenty of shady areas for those who prefer to stay out of the sun.

On the nights when we don’t have dinner plans in Minnesota, most likely, we’ll head to Costco, which we hear carries a wide variety of low-carb, precooked meals we’ll bring back to our hotel suite. Once we arrive, we’ll see if the hotel can provide us with a small microwave during our extended stay.

As for tomorrow, which is Easter Sunday, we’ve invited landlord/friend Bob and his long-time friend, Eddie. So we’re making a low carb, grain, and sugar-free meal. Tomorrow, we’ll take a few photos and post them the following day. 

The rocky shoreline in this area on our way to Shelly Beach.

We send love and best wishes for the health and well-being of all of our family, friends, and readers (whether you celebrate this holiday or not) during this time and always.  

Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2016:

As we wound down our time in New Zealand, we posted our favorite photos, including me with Miss Jessica. I was flattered that Trish and Neil named this sweet girl after Tom, and I attended her birth while they were on holiday. Please click here for more favorite NZ photos and the final expenses for the three-month stay on the alpaca farm.

Its all in the details…

Our crab cracking and dining tools 

As a person entrenched in the details, it’s not unusual to me that I have six tools one could use to crack crab legs: two types of crackers, two types of crab scissors, a pick and a small fork, service for eight. It’s not coincidental that I have service for eight.  Who would want to “shell out” (couldn’t resist) enough crab legs for more than eight people? 

This came to mind yesterday when I recklessly spent $48 for two bags of king crab legs plus $28 for the accompanying grass fed New York strip steaks.  

This is for three of us for Sunday night’s dinner; Tom and I and our friend Sue, who comes for dinner every Sunday night since the passing of her dear husband and our beloved friend Chip. She’s a trooper. Our hearts break for her. They were our role models as a happy, retired couple. Now, we are witnessing the depth of the loss of a beloved partner, excruciatingly sorrowful, a double whammy.

We laugh, we cry and we tell endless stories of our 26 years here on the point. (You can read about Chip in my post on June 1, 2012 found here in the archives).  We three deserve steak and crab.  

The combined cost of the meat at $76, plus the veggies and the salad, it may prove to be a $90 dinner at $30 each. We seldom eat in a restaurant.  However, each of the past two Saturday nights we did, first at Osaka in Coon Rapids with daughter and family and then at Biella In Excelsior with son and his wife.  

Dining in those restaurants, the average cost per person was in the $40 range. This justifies my $30 per person cost dining at home on this special night. After all, this is one of five remaining Sunday nights we have left before we leave for our world wide adventure.

Around the 15th of October, the processing of the estate sale begins leaving us no longer able to cook while everything in the cabinets and drawers; the dishes, the silverware, my gadgets and the pots and pans will be marked for sale. Ouch. My gadgets. Bye, bye, gadgets.

So today, while Tom is off to our oldest grandson’s football game, I’ll stay behind and begin the process of going through my many cookbooks.   

Most of my favorite recipes have been scanned, leaving hundreds we’ll never enjoy again due to our low carb, gluten free, grain free, starch free and sugar free diet.  

This diet gave us back our health, evident in the amazing blood test results we each received this past Thursday after Monday’s final doctor appointment.  Best results ever.  Everything perfect. The diet worked.  We’ll never fail to remember that we wouldn’t be able to travel the world for the next number of years if we hadn’t greatly improved our health by eating in this restricted manner. A small sacrifice in the realm of things.  

However, king crab and steak is no sacrifice, allowable for our way of eating. Besides, I can’t wait to set the table one last time with those six crab utensils before some crazy detail orientated fool such as I, buys all eight sets for a ridiculously low price. 

Hum, could I fit two sets of crab tools inside a shoe in one of the six orange suitcases?  Or perhaps, four sets in case we have company.

Abundant trade offs…

As a logical, numbers crunching individual, I learned a long time ago, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  

The literal translation of this phrase may be construed as:

When enjoying lunch with a friend, who enthusiastically states, “I’m buying,” most often a thought ran through my mind of “Wow, free lunch! One less meal I have to buy.”  Nope, it’s not free.

The trade off?  Next time, I’ll buy lunch or, next time when the friend calls at 10 PM for emotional support, I’ll listen. Or next time the friend needs a ride when their car breaks down, I’m all over it. No, there’s no free lunch.

Remove any resentment or sense of obligation from the mix and we have a cooperative sharing relationship, friendship, a human condition entrenched in trade-offs.  No doubt, we relish in the opportunity to be a part of this magical experience, not only in friendship but in all relationships.

Within our hearts, the “unconditional love” we profess, for our children and grandchildren, we seek pleasure, pride, laughter and return of love. No, we don’t abandon them when unfulfilled, but we grievously hunger for reciprocation continually trying to inch closer.

No free lunch, this life.  No free lunch, traveling the world. Sacrifices? Yes, many.  Beside the obvious of leaving those we love, leaving the familiarity of the home we have treasured for 26 years and leaving the security blanket of predictable, but not mundane life as we’ve known it, we leave behind our most valued “creature comforts.”
What are they?  Will we find alternatives to replace them or will our interest in them entirely dissipate over time?  They include:

Our bed: A California King Sleep Number with split top mattresses with dual controls, with the ability to raise and lower the head and the foot for maximum comfort.  After many years of suffering with advanced degenerative disk disease, this bed has been a life saver not only for me but also for Tom.

My pillow:  A Tempur-Pedic neck pillow that has been highly instrumental in improving my sleep. Unable to imagine life without this pillow, Tom and I used a SpaceBag and our cute little vacuum with the hope and expectation that we could shrink the pillow sufficiently enough to pack it to travel around the world with us. It’s much smaller after sucking out the air, although heavy as a rock. Maybe, maybe not.
My Tempur-Pedic neck pillow before deflation
My Tempur-Pedic neck pillow after deflation
Our two comfy chairs:  Whether a sofa, a love seat or a chair, we all have a favorite place to park our butts at the end of a task filled day.  With our two comfy Flexsteel chairs, positioned perfectly in front of the big screen TV, we have spent endless hours together entertaining ourselves by laughing, talking, watching our favorite shows (many ridiculous) and lounging.  We never sleep in these chairs.  We each have the habit of awakening one another if we spot the other’s eyes begin to close.  Why we do this?  I don’t know.
Our TVs:  Whether cooking or eating in the kitchen, the TV is on in the background, although we’re seldom fully engaged in a show. In the evenings after dinner, we head to the family room to the above mentioned chairs, laptops whirring on our laps as we begin our nightly ritual of talking, laughing, commenting, sharing a funny email and simply having a great time.

Our dessert:  Ah, a year ago, when we both decided to go gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free and low carb, I quit baking the elaborate desserts we used to enjoy each night after dinner. Tom got fatter and I exercised harder. Here are a few of our former desserts, now replaced with healthier low carb, gluten free, sugar free items:
Elaborate dessert: Homemade Ice Cream Cake, perfect for a hot summer night. Bye, bye, cake!
Elaborate dessert: Homemade Puff Pastry Napolean!  No more!
Elaborate dessert: Homemade Butterscotch Meringue Pie (I used 12 eggs whites)!  Never again!
New dessert:  Unsweetened Greek Yogurt topped with GF, SF, low carb chocolate sauce, unsweetened organic shredded coconut and bits of low carb chocolate coconut protein bar. Not bad at all! (Tom won’t try this).
Our ice machine: Eight years ago when we renovated our kitchen we added a SubZero ice machine.  It was easy to adopt the habit of first loading our  insulated, handled mugs with ice to the brim and then pouring in our favorite iced tea, Crystal Light (using two packets to 1/2 gallon of purified water, as opposed to one packet). Our four little ice cube trays, now filled with jewelry, yet to be packed, will make enough ice to last most of a day.

Creature comforts will now be replaced with creatures, big and small. Comfortable beds, comfy furniture and my pillow traded for lumpy discomfort? Maybe. TV replaced with reading downloaded books, playing games, sitting outside at night staring at the stars, listening to the sound of the ocean, the roar of a lion, the laughter in the streets.  Desserts may impossible to make with limited availability of ingredients and icy drinks may be a thing of the past. 

Trade-offs? Yes, many. As Tom always says after we’ve rearranged the furniture, “Give me some time.  I’ll get used to it.”

Orange luggage & boots update…

You can tell by the little bulging muscle on the right side of my calf that I have tried to no avail, exercising my calves to build them up. If a scorpion or other such creature sees this gap in the boots, they may find it an appealing hiding place.This may warrant a visit to the shoe repair store.

Orange luggage, yes!  Fabulous!  Top quality!  Lightweight! The four giant boxes and two smaller boxes arrived on Friday afternoon.  How easily I lifted them into the house!  The Fed Ex guy even commented on the lightweight big boxes, curious as to the contents, amazed when I told him it was luggage.

Carefully, a little knife in hand, I slit the tape off the over sized boxes to easily pull out the orange bags.  Squealing like a kid, I couldn’t open them quickly enough, tossing one on the bed to unzip and inspect further.

The orange isn’t a Halloween pumpkin orange or the color of a naval orange.  It is subtle, definitely orange, comparable to the color of the mashed sweet potatoes, under the fluffy pillow of melted marshmallows to be devoured on Thanksgiving day. (We don’t eat that dish anymore…or even the sweet potatoes for that matter; too much sugar, too many carbs, too much starch.)

The bags are deep, well constructed, easy to zip.  Within minutes I loaded up one of the luggage carts with three of the 30″ Antler Bags, topped off with one of  the new orange carry on bags.  Yes, I knew they were empty. I wanted to see how well the four items would fit on the luggage cart.  Perfect!

Of course, when they are loaded to the brim with our “stuff” it will be different but…it will be manageable. I was thrilled.  Last night, I ordered two more of the 30″ orange bags after I sheepishly told Tom we’d each need three, not two of the bags.  

I’d expected him to flinch when he heard we’d need three 30″ bags.  He didn’t. He smiled at me, reminded of our somewhat preposterous situation, leaving everything behind, taking everything we need with us for the next three years, five years, ten years.  Who knows?  

We’ll manage. We’ll manage with a grin on our faces.  And when the bags feel really heavy, toppling off the cart, landing on a well-booted foot, we will smile, stop, help each other and keep moving on. This we know for sure.

And, my Clark lace up boots arrived on Thursday during the jewelry sale.  I didn’t open the box right away.  I had spent so much time looking online, that I wanted to prolong the anticipation a little longer, preferring to stay preoccupied with the sale.  

Returning home from taking down the hot pink “for sale” signs, I opened the box, feeling giddy over the great find, only to be sorely disappointed when I tried them on.  

The foot, a perfect fit, the calf, a fiasco!  I had measured my skinny calves before buying the boots, checking the detailed description of each possibility to ensure a good fit.  They called it “shaft circumference.”  The description stated a 14″ shaft circumference.  My calves measured 12.5″ leaving adequate room to tuck in pants to keep out 6″ scorpions.  They lied.

The shaft circumference measured 16.5″, leaving room for both of my hands to reach inside.  An entire scorpion family could reside in there.  No thank you. Now what?  Back to the computer, searching “skinny calf boots,  thin calf boots, narrow calf boots, skinny leg boots?  No!!!

Friday morning, before friends were arriving for breakfast I started calling local shoe repair store.  Yes, most likely, it can be done…the shaft can be made smaller, for a price, of course. 

“Bring them in for an estimate. It could be $70 or more,” says Bob of Bob’s Shoe Repair in Wayzata, Minnesota, where 30 years ago, maybe 40, I’d go to get shoes repaired.  Who repairs shoes these days?  Gosh, I sound old.

Monday morning, off to Wayzata I’ll go with the Clark boots.  Thus far, I’ve invested $149.98 plus shipping for a total of $161.98.  This could translate into a total investment of $250.  But, the end result may be a perfectly fitted, well constructed, long lasting, timelessly stylish, safe from scorpions, sure footed pair of comfortable boots, lasting for years,  that I will be wearing as we dash down the concourse to our gate.

Next to my sweetie, I’ll be wheeling one of our 250 pound capacity two wheeled carts, loaded up with three 30″ orange Antler bags, an orange Antler carry on bag, a laptop backpack, a handbag for me, a man purse for Tom (called a murse) heading to our next adventure. Homeless?  Yep!  Harried?  For sure! Happy?  Undoubtedly!

No taco salad in the world?…Recipe for low carb gluten free taco salad bowl…

Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl.  See recipe below.

Every meal I make, I wonder if we’ll be able to enjoy a similar meal when we are abroad.  Will they have the low carb, gluten free, starch free, wheat free, grain free, sugar free items we use on a daily basis?

Last night’s dinner was a perfect example.  We had taco salad that met all of the above criteria.  On yet another hot day, taco salad has a particularly delightful appeal;  warmed seasoned grass fed ground beef, crispy shredded organic romaine lettuce, plump, ripe diced tomatoes, sliced salty stuffed green olives and chopped Vidalia onions.  

For my salad, it was topped it with homemade salsa and sour cream I usually add avocado slices, but none for Tom. Mainly, he likes the meat, onions and lots of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. The added touch of the “bowl” housing all of these goodies, usually made with corn or wheat tortillas (deep fried) is often a very special part of the pleasure. The crunchy, slightly greasy shell allows the diner to scoop and dip the tasty contents while looking forward to the soggy shell at the bottom of the bowl. Alas, a gluten-free, grain free, corn-free, low carb taco salad bowl does not exist in this world as we know it.

Don’t think for a minute that I haven’t looked for one!  If I were to say I have looked online for such an item for as many as eight hours is no exaggeration. The alternative is to go for a pre-made gluten free, corn free, high carb tortilla which throws our low carb, no processed food commitment into a tailspin for a few days.  

Not that I am an expert on gluten-free foods, but I have engaged in some research on the pitfalls of processed gluten free foods to discover that literally all of them are high in carbs and/or sugar. That doesn’t work for either of us. 

After all, we are on a serious mission to be healthy, slim and fit for our upcoming lifestyle. The Internet has a variety of low carb, gluten free recipes, many of which we’ve tried and enjoyed. But, the taco shell bowls left us sorely disappointed.

While chopping the veggies for the salad, I had an idea about the bowls!  Mulling around my head was the little Parmesan cheese bowls I have made on occasion, to be stuffed with some delectable morsels.  They were quite a hit. Also, I contemplated the recipe for the pizza crust I had posted here (please scroll the archives on the right for the June 8, 2012 post for the recipe and photo). 

Melding those two ideas together, I came up with this gluten free, low carb (2 grams), sugar free, wheat free, grain free, starch free taco shell bowl which took seven minutes to prepare.  

Low Carb, Sugar Free, Gluten Free Taco Salad Bowl

1 cup shredded hard cheese (I used 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar, plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. You may use only one type cheese if you’d prefer)
1 large non-stick skillet

1 large piece parchment paper (larger than the inside bottom of the pan) 1 large bowl (smaller than the resulting circle of cheese)

Place the large piece of parchment paper inside the pan, pressing flat to the bottom and against the inside edges. Don’t allow excess paper to be outside of the top edge of the pan or it may burn. Keep the paper inside the pan.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese into a circle atop the center of the parchment paper, taking care to create a large circle. (If there are lots of holes, fill them in with a little more Parmesan cheese).

Turn on the heat to medium high, watching while the cheese melts.

When melted, set a timer for 3 minutes. When timer goes off, remove the pan from the burner. Set the timer for 1 more minute to cool.

Gently lift the parchment paper with cheese round out of the pan, carefully flipping over the paper, centering the cheese round on the bottom of the overturned bowl.

Carefully, peel the parchment paper off of the cheese, while the cheese stays on the bowl. This occurs easily without sticking.

Gently press the cheese down to form a “bowl” with the cheese round. Let it cool for one hour. Remove from the bowl, placing it on a large plate for serving later. (The oil from the cheese will prevent the cheese from sticking to the bowl).

The cheese taco bowl may be made and left out a few hours prior to serving. Once filled, eat immediately or refrigerate for a short time.

Oh well.  Here I am finishing this post, reporting that Tom didn’t like the bowl!   He liked the similar recipe for pizza crust, but not the bowl.  Picky! I ate all of mine, loved it and then found myself eyeballing the uneaten bowl on his plate. Shall I eat it, being a piglet or toss it? Tom noticed me looking at his plate, observing my empty plate and said “Go ahead, and eat it, Sweetie.” 

Healthy, slim and fit echoed in my mind along with all the new well-fitting clothes for our upcoming adventure. With a lifetime of weight struggles, a single such overeating event could start me on a path I would later regret.  
I stuffed Tom’s taco bowl down the garbage disposal, listening sadly as it pulverized away.  Back to the LCGF taco bowl drawing board.  Guess we won’t be eating taco salad in Africa!

Tested for resourcefulness?…Recipe for easy to make coconut shrimp plus gluten free version…

Yesterday morning our eight year old Viking range quit working. It blew the circuit breaker when I turned on the downdraft. Most likely, it’s an electrical issue.  

With an appliance repair plan in place with Centerpoint Energy, I couldn’t call quickly enough.  With the outrageous heat these past few weeks, they were swamped with air conditioning repairs.  The next available time slot was Monday, July 16.  Oh no!  

“What do you mean I won’t have a *&*$%*#@ stove!  How will I cook?  Eight more days?

Friday evening, we heard from two separate couples, dear old friends, we hadn’t seen in a while. Ironically, both of these couples had stumbled across our blog and were inspired to touch base. 

When the first couple called, we invited them for dinner last night, subsequently turning down the second couple who had invited us for dinner only minutes after we invited the first couple.  We love visiting with friends.  We’ve been busy. They’ve been busy.  Life happens.

Smiling, in anticipation of a fun evening, I wandered off to the kitchen to make Tom and I our usual low carb, sugar free, gluten free, grain free and starch free breakfast: eggs, sausage and coconut flour pancakes with Walden Farms sugar free syrup.  

I turned on the Viking stove top with the 24 inch griddle on which I usually make this entire breakfast and on which I would be cooking the dinner for old friends later in the evening.  I turned on the griddle I got power, then a switch short circuited and there was no power.  

Calling out to Tom while he was enjoying time in his comfy chair, reading the Saturday paper, he jumped up to help (Oh, good grief! How stereotypical we are)!  He never uses the stove, knows nothing about the stove, but I always call out to him when something doesn’t work. He came running to no avail.  “Call and get an appointment.” he says and,  “we’ll need to cancel dinner.”

Cancel dinner?  Huh?  Call our dear old friends and “un-invite them?”  No way! I told Tom I’d cook the breakfast in the oven. If it turns out, I will figure out how I will make a lovely dinner without a stove.  

You may think, why not use the Weber grill?  Simple answer. We live on a peninsula. When the winds blows our Weber grill often ends up in the lake, the big black lid bobbing along the shoreline. It always seems to float back home.As a result of “its” life experiences, I have little interest in cooking with its banged up body and lid.  We replaced it several times over the years and finally gave up especially now that “THEY” say grilling may not be so healthful.

As for breakfast, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, baked the sausage and the coconut flour pancakes (used the muffin top pan for perfectly round pancakes) for about 15 minutes, baking the eggs during the last five minutes using the dull side of the Reynold’s nonstick foil (coupon here). Much to our surprise breakfast was perfect! Timing was everything!

Now what’s will we make for dinner for company?  After two days in the kitchen this holiday making food for July 4th, I had little interest in coming up with a complex menu and spending hours preparing a meal. Now that I had no stove, I went rummaging through the freezer to come up with ideas.

Here’s what we decided on preparing without a stove, considering all the ingredients we had on hand:

  • Cauliflower, green onions, bacon and almond salad with homemade sweet and sour ranch dressing (I cooked the bacon in microwave)
  • Marinated pork tenderloins (oven prepared)
  • Grass fed burger patties (oven prepared)
  • Gluten Free Coconut Shrimp with spicy blackberry yogurt dip (deep fryer)

Here’s a photo of the shrimp and the recipe:

Jess’s Coconut Shrimp
Jess’s Coconut Shrimp with Gluten Free Option24 large fresh or frozen shrimp (if frozen, thaw quickly in a bowl of tepid water)
1 cup regular white flour (or for gluten-free diets: 1/2 cup rice flour + 1/2 cup cornstarch)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
2 eggs
2/3 cup ice water, or cold water
1 cup dry shredded unsweetened coconut (baking-type)

2 cups coconut oil or other high-temperature oil for deep-frying

1. Remove shells from shrimp, but leave tails on for easier cooking and eating. Set aside.

2. Make the batter by first mixing the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.

3. Crack the egg into the flour mixture, then add the water, stirring to break the yolk and form a fairly smooth batter (don’t worry if there are a few small lumps).

4. Spread coconut over a plate or other dry surface, and set beside the bowl of batter.

5. Holding the shrimp by the tail, dip into the batter, then into the coconut. Place on a dry plate or a clean space of your counter near the stove. If you have a helper, you can batter and fry the shrimp in one step, which is much quicker.

6. Pour oil into a frying pan, ensuring it’s at least 1 inch deep. Set over medium-high to high heat. When you see lines of heat snaking across the bottom of the pan, test the temperature by dropping a tiny bit of batter into the oil. If it sizzles and cooks, the oil is ready.

7. Drop as many battered shrimp into the frying pan as possible at one time. Reduce heat to medium. Tip: You’ll want to cook the shrimp quickly, in just 1 or two batches (before any of the loosened shredded coconut has time to burn in the oil).

8. Cook about 20 seconds per side then turn with tongs. Remove from the oil when the shrimp turn a light to medium golden brown. Drain on a clean piece of parchment paper (I find parchment paper works the best, as it doesn’t stick to or tear the batter).

9. Serve hot straight from the pan, or accompany a sugar free sweet and sour dipping sauce.

The deep fryer was an issue. Since we don’t normally deep fry, we only had enough coconut oil on hand to fill it to about 1″ deep. The bottom of the fry baskets were raised 1″ from the bottom resulting in the baskets never touching the oil. The only solution I could see was to cook the shrimp around the edges of the heating element which could result in sticking and uneven cooking. Much to my amazement, they didn’t stick and cooked to a golden brown.

Our guests thoroughly enjoyed the dinner (so they said) and we were thrilled with our resourcefulness; cooking with no stove.

Lesson learned: Wherever we may travel, however basic the appliances or cooking utensils, we will find a way to prevent ourselves from starving and perhaps enjoy some innovation in the process.We are having more company for dinner tonight, our dear friend Sue; salmon, leftover coconut shrimp, steak, salad and veggies. Easy peasy.

After another “oven baked” breakfast this morning, I started gathering items for Tom’s lunch tomorrow. By rote, I poured water in a pan, gently placed six eggs in the pan and turned on the stove. Poof! It started! Go figure.

Paper towels and toilet paper…

While grocery shopping yesterday, I grabbed a 12 pack of my favorite paper towels.  Shocked by the outrageous price of $14.96, I stepped back while my eyes scanned the other options, all of which were lower priced.  I had tried the other towels over the years but none could equal my favorites.  (BTW, this is not an ad for paper towels.  Note, no mention of a brand.  Email or call me if you want the brand name).

Then it hit me!  On average I use two rolls of paper towels a month.  With slightly over four months until departure, we will end up with about three unused rolls of paper towels including the additional cleaning to do before we sign off on the house.  No need to buy the 12 pack.

With the eight pack in hand at $9.97, the math swirling around my head, I laughed aloud at my ridiculousness, threw the eight pack in the cart and moseyed over the toilet paper, again going through the same preposterous calculations.  

I passed on the toilet paper, having counted the eight rolls on the shelf above the toilet before heading to the grocery store this morning, as I often do.  No imminent need for the ultra soft, zillion sheets, favorite toilet paper either. (Please email or call for that brand).

Certainly, a reader of this blog thinks I am the female version of Howie Mandell. I am picky, but I can be kissed, hugged, shake hands and touch the rail on the escalator at the mall (although I seldom go to a mall preferring to shop online).  I wash my hands about 20 times a day, less from obsession, more from a logical desire for the safe handling of our food. 

OCD?? Not really.  I prefer to call it “detail orientated.”  Perfectionism?  I suppose, to a degree.  I have messy cupboards and drawers with the intent to prove that I’m not a perfectionist. After all, wouldn’t a perfectionist, try to be so perfect as to try not to appear to be a perfectionist? 

Who knows and basically, who cares?  No one. Tom is hardly annoyed.  Our kids think I’m weird in any case.  And, most of all, I am neither stressed nor suffer any angst as a result of it. Periodically, I engage in a bout of worry in the middle of the night.  Then again,  who doesn’t occasionally worry in the middle of the night?

Thus, I am a content “detail orientated” individual that may annoy some of the people some of the time that, if they choose, may tease me relentlessly and I will genuinely chuckle. 

Yes, I’m packing too much stuff.  Yes, I spend too much time looking for a better deal on a small item.  Yes, I will hang clothes in the shower to get out the wrinkles.  Yes, I will wear a different outfit every formal night aboard ship and have ample choices for Tom as well.  

Yes, I will continue my healthful, low carb, wheat, grain, sugar, starch and gluten free diet. (Tom, not so much, especially aboard ship). Yes, I will continue to workout and take a handful of supplements each day.  Yes, Tom will continue to spend endless hours working online, fine tuning his ancestry.

We will bring with us, into this new life of world travel, who we are, our endless peculiarities, our annoying habits, our comfortable and seemingly pointless rituals and of course, some of our stuff.  I don’t think we’ll bring paper towels or toilet paper but then again…

Wheat, grain, starch, sugar free low carb pizza crust?…Yep!…

Each night, as I make dinner either for myself when Tom works late, or for both of us, I wonder how we will eat in a foreign land.  As I lay out our organic produce, grass fed beef, wild caught fish or free range organic chicken, I anticipate these items won’t be readily available where we are going.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, as of last August, we became gluten free, sugar free, starch free, grain and wheat free and low carb. Whew! Yes, it’s a challenge, but worth it! 

For me, this way of eating has been a huge improvement in blood lipids, including glucose, triglycerides, HDL and cholesterol.  With a family history of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity, years ago I became mindful of a healthy lifestyle.  

Over the years I have been able to combat the obesity factor with a careful “low fat” diet and regular exercise while painstakingly sacrificing the pleasure of enjoying my most favorite foods: desserts, with a proverbial sweet tooth.

Alas, all this effort was to no avail. I found myself with heart problems for which I had surgery two years ago, hypertension for which I still take medication and borderline diabetes with spiking blood sugars an hour after eating a carbohydrate rich meal.  How could this be?  I followed the USDA guidelines, MY PLATE and yet, my health continued to decline.

After hundreds of hours of reading the various Harvard, Mayo Clinic, UCLA Medical, Cleveland Clinic, etc., medical studies I, ultimately, ending up reading a book that changed my life forever, “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis about the destruction of the wheat that our ancestors knew, formerly 14 chromosomes, now 44 chromosomes, genetically changed with the intent to increase the world’s wheat production; a faster growing, shorter crop that can withstand the use of Monsanto’s ROUNDUP!  Oh, good grief!

Last August, Tom (who went kicking and screaming) and I both gave up wheat, rice (both white and brown), grains, bread, doughnuts, cake, cookies, pies, grain fed meat, farmed fish, corn, sugar, soda pop, MSG, potatoes, starchy vegetables, and on and on.  Tom has now lost 30 pounds.  I didn’t need to lose any weight, but desperately needed to change my health.  This way of eating did exactly that!  

A few weeks ago, a full round of blood tests confirmed that finally eating healthy fat and eliminating wheat, grains, sugar, starches and reducing carb consumption did indeed change my health for the better.  Tom, now a believer, will enjoy a favorite item from time to time. But I adhere to this way of eating strictly, realizing the risk is too high if I don’t.

Tonight, we’re having homemade pizza made without wheat or any form of flour or starch.  Here is our homemade crust with the recipe which is easy to make.

Homemade Grain Free Pizza Crust
Recipe for Jessica’s Homemade Grain Free Pizza Crust
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a pizza pan with the dull side of Reynolds Non Stick Tin Foil

Mix cheeses and beaten egg in a bowl. Spread mixture evenly over  parchment paper placed into the pan.  If necessary to fill holes, sprinkle a little more cheese. This doesn’t have to be exact.

Bake in preheated oven for about 14 minutes, keeping a close eye to ensure it doesn’t get too brown.  Let cool before adding toppings.
The challenge had been to find a pizza sauce without  sugar.  The best sauce I have found thus far is Rao’s Marinara Sauce, easily found at most grocery stores.  Although pricey at $8.95 a jar, it does make four pizzas, which is less than a standard jar of sugary pizza sauce.
For the balance of the pizza, we like to add one pound of pre-cooked and drained hot Italian sausage, 3/4 cup sliced green olives, one cup, sliced mushrooms and 1/2 cup diced onions, all topped off with about 12 oz. mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, again checking frequently for a perfect bubbly golden top.  We love this pizza!
The question becomes, will we be able to make our pizzas in in Belize, Madeira, Tuscany, Mombasa or Mallorca?  Will we have access to Rao’s or a good substitute, a pizza pan and parchment paper?  How readily available are grass fed beef, free range chicken and organic vegetables?
Will we be able to find sugar free maple syrup for our low carb coconut flour pancakes? Will we be able to buy coconut and almond flour or coconut oil, staples in our diet? What about our Crystal Lite Iced Tea? Liquid Stevia?  Alpha lipoic acid supplements?
If anyone knows the answers to these questions, please comment at the bottom of the post.  Love to hear from you.  Love to stop wondering what we’ll make for dinner!  With our way of eating, it’s been challenging enough!